KatCorbett.com -- My Virtual Mailbox

My real mailbox!

My real mailbox!

If you'd like to share some of your experiences, opinions, and ideas, I'd love to hear from you. I'll answer questions and share comments on this page.

Before you e-mail me, please read my Privacy Statement. You'll find my e-mail address on that page!

Here are some questions readers have asked:

Q. How long does it take to write a book? -- Barb, Georgia

A. It depends on the amount of writing time the author has available. The lucky ones, who are free to write all day, can get a lot done in a short time. Some might write a novel in just six months; others aim to produce a book a year. Some of my writer friends are home all day but have young children; these folks have to fit their writing into naptimes! Others have full-time jobs, which makes writing time hard to find. (Authors have to shop, clean the house, and do yard work on weekends like everyone else!) It can take years for them to make their books happen.

Q. How does what you write become a book? -- Ann, Ohio

A. First, the author, or his or her agent, sends the story to publishing companies. It can take a long time to find one that wants to buy it! After a publisher does buy it, it will still take a year or more for the book to be published. An editor usually asks the author to make changes, sometimes several times, and this can take many months. Meanwhile, the publisher's artists design a cover. Finally, the pages are printed, the covers go on, and the new books are shipped to your local bookstore!

Q. Where do you get your ideas? -- Chelsea, New Jersey

A. Everywhere! All you have to do is keep your eyes, ears, and mind open. I like to do new and interesting things, such as take Homeland Security courses -- see About Me. Don't be surprised if some of my experiences in these programs show up in the

Q. How do you keep track of ideas? -- Maya, California

A. Ideas can pop into a writer's head anytime, and you soon learn to write them down before they get away from you! If I get one at an awkward time, such as when I'm out somewhere, I jot it on a sticky note. I have a binder divided into sections for each book in the series. I just stick the little notes in the right section, where I can find them when I want them. For some reason, many authors find that some of their best ideas come to them in the shower! The solution: stick up a little whiteboard in there to capture them so they don't go down the drain!

Q. Are the characters based on real people? -- Angie, Florida

A. The main characters in the
books are not based on real people. Tori, Roni, Cody, Erin and Casey, and Valentina and the other Russian kids are straight out of my head. Some of the secondary characters -- for example, Mary, the shelter director -- are based somewhat on people I know. Sometimes an experience a character has, such as Granny's time in Siberia, is based on someone's real experience, even though the character is made up.

Q. How do you choose character names? -- Carmen, Arizona

A. In several ways, actually. As you'll know from the story, Tori and Roni's full names grew from the Lorna Hill ballet books their mom (and I) loved to read. I chose Cody's name because it sounded strong and confident to me, and I made Erin and Casey's names very different to suit such independent twins. I spend a lot of time choosing when the name is important. When it doesn't matter much, I may settle on the first name that comes to mind! For fun, I sometimes use names of friends and family members for "bit parts," such as characters' relatives. Most of the Russians in Future Perfect are named after my pen pals in Russia and Ukraine.

Q. What else have you written? -- Stephanie, Massachusetts

A. I've written a number of poems for adults and children and some books for younger children. These include several picture books, an easy-reader, and a middle-grade story. Some of the poems have been published, but I haven't yet done anything with the books.

Copyright © Kat Corbett